2008 Edition Of Rivalry Heated Yet Again

Unlike the civil tones they used during the week leading up to the Michigan game Saturday, Ohio State players discussed somewhat more colorfully what the rivalry means to them after a pregame shoving match and some physical play highlighted the Buckeyes' 42-7 blowout win in Ohio Stadium.

Earle Bruce must have been smiling Saturday afternoon.

The former Ohio State coach, who pumps up both players and fans during Michigan week, has a special place in his heart for the team's rivalry with the team from up north, so he must have been warmed by the fact that after the game a number of Ohio State players discussed the animosity between the two squads.

"It has such a different feeling to it," safety Kurt Coleman said. "There's so much hatred and bad blood between each school. It's tough to describe because everyone is trying to hurt the next person. Usually, (other) games are, ‘I'm trying to make a big play,' or whatever, but you're just trying to hurt the person across from you and that's why I love this game."

Coleman's remarks highlighted just how much the emotions get flowing after a game against Michigan. During the week leading up to the 105th edition of The Game, many of the players spoke about the respect they had for Michigan while shying away from any proclamations about disliking the Wolverines.

Things had changed a little bit after the game, a contest that saw emotions on each side boil over at times.

The ball wasn't even yet in the air before the first scuffle broke out. As Ohio State's players were jumping up and down near midfield to pump themselves up before leaving the field after warm-ups, they earned the attention of the Michigan players heading back to their locker room.

Soon enough, masses of players from the two sides were face to face, jawing back and forth before coaches got between the teams and separated them. The scene was similar to the one before last season's game, when Michigan players took offense to Ohio State's pregame ritual of jumping up and down near midfield.

"It's kind of more of a ritual thing," Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline said. "If we weren't awake at that point we were afterwards."

A player who had a front-row seat for the scrum, not surprisingly, was boisterous left tackle Alex Boone.

"I just kind of looked over and they were talking, so I just kind of walked over and started talking," he said. "The next thing I know everyone's kind of pulling me back. I wasn't going to swing at anybody. I'm not that stupid. But I was just going to let them know how I feel about them. I just thought it was funny."

To the massive offensive lineman, the pregame festivities were an indication of just how deep the seeds of the rivalry are cast.

"Obviously, that's what makes this such a great rivalry is that we both hate each other, and that's the truth," Boone said.

That's right, Boone used the word "hate," and he wasn't going to back down from it later.

"Two teams that hate each other, you put them in 100 yards by 50 yards and obviously someone's going to be pushing each other," he said.

The bad blood continued throughout the game, especially during the first quarter. After Terrelle Pryor threw an interception on the game's first series, he absorbed what he believed to be an illegal hit after the play was over. A play later, Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins and Michigan's Greg Mathews got tangled up, and the skirmish ended with Jenkins throwing Mathews to the turf.

Ohio State also was able to take out its aggression on numerous big hits, as James Laurinaitis twice crushed Nick Sheridan with bone-jarring hits and Austin Spitler removed Sam McGuffie from the game with a kickoff hit that seemed to leave the freshman wondering what state he was in.

Such old-school ferocity must have been a sight for sore eyes for Bruce, who is often the subject of stories during Michigan week for the passionate speeches he delivers to the team. While discussing the subject, linebacker James Laurinaitis chuckled when asked if anyone hates Michigan more than the man who coached Ohio State from 1979-87.

"I don't know. You're talking about – alive or dead?" Laurinaitis said. "Because I'm sure Woody would still be classified for that. I don't know. Coach Bruce does a great job of kind of showing the passion of this game."

The Buckeye players were right along with him on Saturday both with their actions on the field and their words after the game.


Buckeye Sports Top Stories